Slow start to UP elections (Lead)

February 8th, 2012 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi Lucknow, Feb 8 (IANS) The Uttar Pradesh elections got off to a slow start Wednesday with people reluctant to move out early morning due to the cold and incessant rain in several parts of the state, where 55 assembly constituencies go to polls in the first of seven rounds.

In the first two hours of polling that commenced at 7 a.m., just 150 voters stepped out of their homes in the cold and rainy weather at the Puremoti primary school in Barabanki, barely 35 km from here. Polling ends at 5 p.m.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer Umesh Sinha told IANS that the voter turnout in the first two hours was estimated between five and six percent as against seven to eight percent witnessed in the 2009 Lok Sabha election.

A total of 1.70 crore people are eligible to vote in this round.

Among the important constituencies are Mahasi and Matera in Bahraich, Ayodhya in Faizabad, Sitapur, Kushinagar, Mubarakpur in Azamgarh and Gazipur.

With 862 candidates in the fray, Barabanki has the maximum number at 26 and Mahmoodabad the least with eight.

The last phase of the elections will be held March 3 and the votes counted March 6.

Prominent among those who are in the fray in this first phase are the sons of two Congress MPs, Jagdambika Pal and Beni Prasad Verma, who is also the union steel minister.

This phase is also seen as an acid test for Congress star campaigner Rahul Gandhi who has travelled and campaigned extensively alongwith Beni Prasad Verma in the area that has a substantial OBC vote of which Verma is regarded as a popular face.

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